Talk about things I'm thankful for...
For the past 10 weeks of this summer, I've been trekking around night and day through the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center (UNDERC-East).
My reason for making the 1,500-mile journey by train and van was a program aimed at training the ecological researchers of tomorrow. Five concentrated module weeks focus on Mammalogy and Ornithology (study of birds), Aquatic Ecology, Forest Ecology (silviculture), Aquatic Ecology, and Herpetology (sweet!)
In addition to these focused module weeks, each of 24 college students (myself included) completed an original research project using the generous facilities and wildlife provided by the station (akin to an REU).
10 weeks of ecological research in the northern hardwoods taught me a great deal about ecology, physiology, and animal behavior. More importantly, however, was a practical glimpse at the research process in action. I may comment on it further in another post, but this experience gave me the insight necessary to determine that I will pursue a Ph.D. in some topic of behavioral ecology. That insight is something unable to be taught effectively in a classroom setting, and I am thankful for it.
I recommend viewing their intuitive website for a more in-depth view of the aims, history, and research of this wonderful ecological research site.
A future post will more fully explain my successful research project conducted at UNDERC-East.
Now for some pictures (image names give a brief descriptor):